My husband and I just returned from our cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Sun, and it was a marvelous experience. We cannot praise NCL highly enough for providing us with such incredible memories on board this beautiful ship! And the scenery was breathtaking.
Service on the ship was outstanding! We loved the "Freestyle" dining, as we could dine when and where we chose. There are several restaurants on board where the meals are included in the price of the cruise, and a few others where you can dine for a modest surcharge. They were all (and we tried them ALL!) terrific - in terms of both food and service. We did have one small service issue in the Bistro, but in the large scheme of things, it was insignificant.
The weather was nice much of the time, although we did encounter some rain and low clouds. Our ports of call were Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, B.C. We had signed up in advance for the shore excursions we wanted, which saved us the hassle of doing it on board - and also let us plan and pack accordingly. We limited ourselves to three excursions so we could relax and not rush from one thing to the next. For us, it was definitely the way to go!
In Juneau, we did the evening whale watching. The cost was $139 for each of us. The boat we went on - the St. Marie I think it was - was brand new and very nice, and they served great food. We did see a whale or two but the weather was not great and you really had to look fast or you'd miss them. Our dream of seeing a whale breach was dashed!
In Skagway, we did The Best of Skagway. At the cost of $189 each, the overall experience is not one we would recommend. Of all the things we did, this one was our greatest disappointment, though it was primarily due to the weather. Because of the low clouds, etc., we really couldn't see very much during our ride on the Whitepass and Yukon Route railroad. The driver of the tour bus (that takes you to the top, then you take the train down) was a college student from BYU and he was terrific. The entertainment at the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp was amusing, and the food was OK. From there we went back to the town of Skagway, to the famous Red Onion Saloon, and toured the upstairs brothel. That was interesting. But as I said, the overall experience wasn't that terrific. I really felt bad for those who took helicopter tours. I didn't speak with anyone who had, but I have to believe they missed a lot due to the clouds (assuming they even took off).
Our best experience was the Alaska Fishing and Wilderness Dining tour in Ketchikan. You have to be on the dock at 6 a.m., so it's not a tour for those wishing to sleep in! We would recommend this excursion VERY highly. The cost is steep at $275 each, but we would do it again in a heartbeat. We saw eagles, and even saw a whale close up! (We could have saved our money on the whale watching adventure!) The dining really is in the wilderness, but they make a bouillabaisse that is out of this world. The restroom facility for the ladies is quite rustic. The men simply go behind the trees.
Fortunately, we packed all the right things. Prior to going, I had read that you should plan to layer your clothes, and it turned out to be excellent advice. We dressed fairly casually most of the time, but were prepared for just about anything. We took very little that we didn't wear -- turtleneck sweaters, sweatshirts, lightweight jackets, and one heavier jacket. We also took rain gear, which came in handy! I wished I had taken fewer sweatshirts - there are so many nice ones to buy, both on board the ship and in the towns, and the prices are quite reasonable.
All in all, we have memories that will last forever - and some wonderful photographs, too.